Activities for the public and schools
Get involved with environmental science...
Operation Earth - external link - is a series of hands-on activities, experiments, public shows and meet-the-expert sessions for children and families, in 11 UK science centres from February 2018. The project, led by the Association for Science & Discovery Centres, will run at a science centre near you:
- Catalyst - external link, Cheshire and Techniquest Glyndŵr - external link, Wrexham
- Dynamic Earth - external link, Edinburgh
- Eden Project - external link, Cornwall
- Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre - external link, Manchester
- Natural History Museum - external link, London
- National Space Centre - external link, Leicester
- Oxford University Museum of Natural History - external link
- The Observatory Science Centre - external link, Sussex
- Thinktank - external link, Birmingham
- W5 - external link, Belfast
Previous public events include:
The science we support is amazing. Our researchers study every aspect of our planet, and how humans are changing it - from the poles to the tropical rainforests, and from the depths of the ocean to the edge of space. Planet Earth brings you the latest stories, pictures and videos about their work. You can also subscribe to receive Planet Earth as a regular email newsletter.
Anyone can take part in a research project through citizen science. Members of the public can collect valuable data, samples and information, which scientists then use in their environmental science research.
You can choose which topic most interests you, from geology to grasshoppers!
- Weather Rescue - external link - Unearth forgotten weather records from the UK's highest mountain.
- iGeology App - external link - Britain's rocks in your pocket.
- mySoil - external link - Build a community dataset by submitting your own soil information.
- myVolcano - external link - A citizen science app that enables you to share your observations of natural hazards.
- Mammal Tracker - external link - Mammals in the British Isles are surprisingly under-recorded and you can help.
- Plant Tracker - external link - Help us track down invasive plant species, which are a threat to native wildlife in the UK.
- Conker Tree Science - external link - Record damage caused by the leaf-mining moth.
- Ladybird Challenge - external link - Help us find the seven-spot ladybird.
- Bloomin' Algae - external link - Reduce public health risks from harmful algal blooms.
- Asian Hornet Watch - external link - Asian hornet monitoring.
- Rare Arable Flowers - external link - Save rare flowers.
- iRecord - external link - Record full range of UK wildlife.
- Lichen App - external link - Monitor air quality using lichens.
- Ozone Injury Recording - external link - Record ozone pollution, which can damage the leaves of many species of plants.
- BioBlitz - external link - Come and join the race to find as much wildlife as we can.
- Cricket Tales - external link - Help us to understand the lives of wild insects by watching video clips.
What happened to Boaty McBoatface?
200 million pounds. 15,000 tonnes. 129 metres. One name.
The RRS Sir David Attenborough will be the UK's largest and most advanced research ship yet. She will allow scientists to carry out research safely and efficiently, even through the harshest of winters, in both Antarctica and the Arctic.
Following a call for suggestions that sparked global interest, Sir David Attenborough was selected as a name that captures the ship's scientific mission and celebrates the broadcaster's contribution to natural science. The popular suggestion 'Boaty McBoatface' will live on as the name of one of the ship's high-tech remotely operated sub-sea vehicles. The Boaty sub-sea vehicle dispatches from RRS Sir David Attenborough to allow the ship's research crew to collect data and samples from the deepest waters of the Arctic and Antarctic.
Find out more about what Boaty is up to - external link - through the National Oceanography Centre.
Find out more about polar history with our timeline - external link.
Polar Explorer Programme
The Polar Explorer Programme - external link - encourages and supports schools who are keen to raise aspirations and attainment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.
About the ship: Breaking new ground
The RRS Sir David Attenborough's state-of-the-art capabilities will take science to new places, giving fresh insights into our fragile polar environments and how our planet works. Her flexible labs and equipment will allow our scientists to take full advantage of the latest robotic, satellite and underwater monitoring technology. She will help us understand how the ice is evolving as our climate changes, and the consequences for global sea-level rise.
Our research ships provide a platform for scientists to study across a wide range of scientific fields. From monitoring the stability of the Antarctic ice sheet to looking at ocean circulation to investigating the diversity of marine life, our research ships are kept busy throughout the year. RRS Sir David Attenborough will be able to endure up to 60 days in sea-ice to enable scientists to gather observations and data. She will be the first British-built polar research vessel with a helideck, opening up access to new locations for our scientists. She will be one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories operating in the polar regions.
Off the ship, robotic submarines and marine gliders, including Boaty McBoatface, will collect data on ocean conditions and marine biology and deliver it to scientists working in the ship's laboratories. Airborne robots and on-board environmental monitoring systems will provide detailed information on the surrounding polar environment.
Launching in 2019
RRS Sir David Attenborough is being built in Birkenhead by Cammell Laird. The decision followed a 12-month competitive tender process that involved bids from companies in the UK, Europe and the Far East. This project will secure jobs and apprenticeships and provide a significant economic boost to Merseyside. The shipyard is expected to cut steel in autumn 2016 and deliver the next generation polar research vessel ready for operation by 2019.
The ship will be the first British-built polar research vessel with a helideck to open up new locations for science and will be one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories operating in the polar regions. Tonne for tonne, the UK will have the most advanced oceanographic research vessel fleet in the world.
Find out more about the progress of building the RRS Sir David Attenborough - external link - through the British Antarctic Survey.
Find out more about the impact of the new polar ship on jobs, skills and the shipbuilding industry in this video about building the RRS Sir David Attenborough - external link.
We work with a number of partners to provide free resources that can enrich lessons in the classroom, demonstrate real-life science and enthuse young people about the science we support.
Resources for teachers
- British Antarctic Survey educational resources - external link - Award-winning educational resources for teachers and students.
- British Geological Survey educational resources - external link - Information and resources for schools and colleges, lifelong learners or anyone with an interest in geology for education or leisure.
- Atmospheric science educational resources - external link - Inspire school pupils about the importance of atmospheric sciences, current research and the many career opportunities within this fascinating area of science.
- UK School Seismology Project - external link - Detect signals from large earthquakes happening anywhere in the world.
- OneZoom Tree of Life - external link - An interactive map of the evolutionary relationships between 1.8 million species of life on our planet.
- MetLink - external link - Royal Meteorological Society supports teachers and the teaching of weather and climate in schools.
- Meet Billy... the Banded Mongoose - external link - Billy the Banded Mongoose is a fun fact-filled online picture book authored by Jenni Sanderson and illustrated by Emma Brierley.
- Glaciers and Climate Change - external link - Five lessons in which students research the effect of climate change on glaciers.
- Fossil Hunters: Unearthing the Mystery of Life on Land - external link - This animation shows how life on earth has developed over billions of years, and explains why Romer's gap is so significant.
- Sea Level Change and Salt Marshes - external link - Three worksheets for teachers that provide guidance notes along with example demonstrations and fun classroom practicals.
- Ocean resources - external link - Inspiring curriculum resources.
- Times Educational Supplement - external link - Lesson resources for teachers.
- Nuffield Research Placements - external link - Students in the first year of a post-16 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) course can apply for funds to work with a scientist in their place of work during the summer holidays.
- Cutting Edge Research CPD - external link - Programme created with leading researchers to support the teaching of STEM subjects at GCSE and A-level.
- Caledon - external link - Play the forest health computer game to save the nation's forests! Invasive diseases, grazing animals and thieves run rampant in this strategy simulation game!
- SchoolScience - external link - Resources and news for science education from the Association of Science Education:
- Disaster Zone! Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Volcanoes - external link - Resources for teachers to use in the classroom to help school students understand more about a range of natural hazards.
- Exploring Climate Through Time - external link - Become a rock detective! This useful free map shows the rocks of Britain and Ireland grouped according to the environment under which they were formed.
- Ocean Drifters - A secret world beneath the waves - external link - This video resource explains how plankton underpins the marine food web, created our oil and gas, and shaped the landscape around us.
- Richard III and the Isotope Story - external link - The skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park in 2012 has been confirmed as that of English King Richard III. This free activity explores how isotope analysis of the skeleton revealed more about the lifestyle of the king.
- Social impacts of volcanic eruptions - external link - STREVA (Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas) is a project studying the human impact of eruptions. The resources is three videos are set on the island of St Vincent where the population lives close to La Soufrière volcano.
- BGS prehistoric puppets and models - external link - Choose a hand puppet or models of a dinosaur or other extinct creature to download, print and make.
- Contaminated Crops - external link - What scientific research could help to reduce the human intake of radioactive isotopes from crops grown in contaminated areas?
NERC has a YouTube channel - external link with many videos about the science we fund - some have been made by our own researchers, and others with professional film crews - all of them provide an insight into the work we do and are a good introduction for teaching environmental science topics.
Radio shows for children
We have worked with FunKids Radio to produce a series of short radio clips for children about the oceans and the life within them, and climate change. You can listen online on the FunKids website - external link.
Careers and work experience
If you are interest in gaining some work experience in environmental science, your local university's environmental sciences department may be able to help. Alternatively, please contact one of NERC's research centres:
- British Antarctic Survey work experience opportunities - external link
- Centre for Ecology & Hydrology work experience opportunities - external link
- National Oceanography Centre study opportunities - external link
Find out more about careers in environmental science.